Meaningful ways to support Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees

Date: March 12, 2022

As we witness the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, we, at the Canadian Unitarian Council, reaffirm our commitment to creating a more peaceful, just, and equitable world. We find our strength in community, and are reminded of these words from Mark Morrison-Reed in Singing the Living Tradition. (Beacon Press, 1993)

580 The Task of the Religious Community

The central task of the religious community is to unveil the bonds that bind each to all. There is a connectedness, a relationship discovered amid the particulars of our own lives and the lives of others. Once felt, it inspires us to act for justice. 

It is the church that assures us that we are not struggling for justice on our own, but as members of a larger community. The religious community is essential, for alone our vision is too narrow to see all that must be seen, and our strength too limited to do all that must be done. Together, our vision widens and our strength is renewed. 

The attack on Ukraine poses a global threat to democracy and a direct threat to the lives of people in Ukraine. Unitarians and Unitarian Universalists throughout the world are coming together to respond in peaceful, meaningful ways. 

We invite you and your congregation to consider supporting one or more of the following campaigns or actions in solidarity with Ukraine. As you do, we encourage you to consider this advice from Charity Intelligence Canada:

  • Donate money over stuff
  • Prioritize charities with strong ties to Ukraine
  • Be aware of scams
  • Find creative ways to help
  • Sponsor refugees personally

Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist Campaigns

(*See footnote at end of message about donating to non-Canadian charities and organizations.)

  • The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) Emergency Relief Fund is currently seeking donations to fund relief efforts in Ukraine. UUSC advances human rights and social justice around the world, partnering with those who confront unjust power structures and mobilizing to challenge oppressive policies. Its work is grounded in the belief that all people have inherent power and dignity.
  • The International Women’s Convocation (IWC) is a global partnership of Unitarians & Unitarian Universalists who work for women’s empowerment through Unitarian/UU connections around the world. An NGO in special consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council, it is currently raising money to provide immediate aid to families fleeing war in Ukraine in partnership with the Hungarian Unitarian Church.
  • You can also support the Hungarian Unitarian Church directly to meet the most urgent needs of Ukrainian refugees and those who have been internally displaced. 

Canadian Organizations Recommended by Charity Intelligence Canada

  • Canada Ukraine Foundation Appeal is raising money to provide food, blankets, medicine, and shelter to people from Ukraine who have been displaced. They have already distributed more than CDN$1.6 million in aid, but hope to raise CDN$25 million. Funds you donate today will be dispersed within seven days. 
  • Doctors Without Borders/MSF Canada is currently on the ground in Lviv, working with hospitals throughout Ukraine to assess their needs and restock medical supplies, especially surgical supplies needed to respond to mass casualties. The organization is well-regarded for the speed and effectiveness of its campaigns.  
  • The Canadian Red Cross historically supports prisoners of war by providing them with letters and food parcels and ensuring international codes of conduct are upheld. To date, the Canadian Red Cross has raised more than CDN$56 million for its Ukraine appeal. (This includes the Government of Canada’s match of $10 million.) These and any additional funds will be used to support immediate and ongoing relief efforts, long-term recovery, resiliency, and other critical humanitarian activities in Ukraine and surrounding countries. 
  • Save the Children Canada is raising funds to provide children and their families with warm clothing and blankets; cash transfers and voucher assistance to purchase food, medicine and other essentials; psychosocial support and child-friendly spaces; water, sanitation and hygiene programs; access to primary healthcare; and education.
  • Help Age Canada works in partnership with others to improve and maintain the quality of life of vulnerable older persons and their communities in Canada and around the world. Last year, they distributed aid to 1,000 vulnerable and isolated seniors in Eastern Ukraine. 
  • World Vision Canada has an office in Romania and established partnerships with local organizations working in Ukraine. They are providing relief to children and families fleeing Ukraine, including food, essential items, temporary shelter, and child-friendly spaces. 

Creative Ways to Help Refugees with Airbnb

As the crisis in Ukraine unfolded, people worldwide began to book stays in Ukrainian Airbnbs as a way to financially support Airbnb hosts in Ukraine. In the first two days of the grassroots initiative, more than 61,000 bookings had been made, including 3,000 by Canadians. 

Airbnb.org offers two additional ways to lend your support to refugees fleeing Ukraine:

Sponsor or Support Refugees with the CUC

Canada allows citizens to sponsor and personally resettle refugees, and Canadians across the country have expressed their desire to welcome refugees from Ukraine–including many Unitarians and Unitarian Universalists.  

The Canadian Unitarian Council is a sponsorship agreement holder (SAH) with the federal government, which means that we can authorize congregations to sponsor refugees under our agreement. This lets us streamline the application process and support a congregation or group of individuals who want to sponsor refugees to Canada. 

It costs about $10,000 to bring just one person to Canada. If you’re not able to sponsor someone yourself, consider making a tax-deductible donation to the CUC’s Refugee Fund. Every dollar helps the efforts of sponsoring groups around the country.

For congregations who are willing to sponsor refugees, whether from Ukraine or other threatened countries, please contact refugee@cuc.ca for more information.

*Canadian charities, (and all of our congregations are charities) are not able to donate to non-qualified donees, ie those organizations which are not designated as Canadian charities. Individuals, however, are able to donate to organizations of their choice.To find out if an organization is recognized as a Canadian charity, search for the organization at Canada Revenue Agency’s charities link.

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